WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is expected to send Congress a plan on Tuesday for closing the wartime prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which President Barack Obama wants to complete before he leaves office.
The Obama administration has been trying to close the prison since 2009 by transferring all lower-level detainees to countries that can meet security conditions, with the rest to be taken to a prison on domestic soil. But the fate of the plan is uncertain because of a statute banning the military from taking detainees from Guantánamo to the United States. The Republican-controlled Congress has shown little interest in revoking that law.
There are 91 detainees at Guantánamo. Of those, 46 are being held as wartime detainees and have not been recommended for transfer, while 35 are on a transfer list. The other 10 have been charged or convicted in the military commissions system.
Among the potential replacement sites that have been studied by the Pentagon are military prisons at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Charleston, South Carolina, as well as a wing of the federal correctional complex at Florence, Colorado, where a maximum-security prison already houses many convicted terrorists.
The new plan is expected to estimate what it would cost to upgrade prisons and to operate a wartime prison in those locations.
Last spring, the Obama administration promised Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that it would give Congress a closure plan. But after it delayed producing one, lawmakers included a provision in last November’s National Defense Authorization Act requiring the executive branch to provide one within 90 days.